San Elizario bounces Decatur for second straight year

By Oscar LeRoy, for the Messenger | Published Saturday, April 7, 2018.
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San Elizario coach Max Sappenfield couldn’t believe what he had seen on Saturday afternoon.

Expecting the 4A Region I regional quarterfinal against Decatur to go down to the wire, what Sappenfield wound up seeing was a lopsided 5-0 victory by his team at Grande Communications Stadium. 

San Elizario (18-5) not only showed off its potent offense, but rarely allowed Decatur (16-11-2) any scoring opportunities. Because of that, San Elizario heads to its third regional tournament in four years when it faces Life Oak Cliff in the 4A Region I semifinal at 6 p.m. April 13 at Birdville ISD’s Fine Arts and Athletics Complex.

The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Bridgeport and Midlothian Heritage in the finals for the right to go to the state tournament.

“We had one of those special days,” Sappenfield said. “I had the kids practicing penalties all week because I thought it would go 0-0 or 1-1. But it was one of those days. I’m just in a little bit in shock of the score. I don’t think Decatur deserves a 5-0 game against anybody. They’re good.”

Decatur ended another positive season just short of reaching the regional tournament for the first time in program history. It is the second straight year Decatur has been eliminated by San Elizario after falling last year 2-0.

“It was a tough game,” said Decatur coach Chris Benjamin. “Our small goal was to get back here like we did last year and our ultimate goal this year was to go to state. We fell short of that goal this year but I’m proud of the way the boys played this year. [San Elizario] had a great team out there today and they moved the ball around well. We fell short in our ball movement and we weren’t able to get the opportunities we needed.”

San Elizario controlled the ball from the start and had several opportunities to score early, but Decatur keeper Juan Patino had a couple of clutch saves to keep San Elizario off the board.

San Elizario finally broke through in the 26th minute when Eric Valdez scored the first of his two goals. San Elizario took a 2-0 lead at the half when Victor Unzueta found the back of the net with 4:18 before intermission.

“They are a very high-octane team,” Benjamin said. “They love to pressure the ball. We tried to form counter-attacks and we got a few in there, but not enough. With their aggressive nature, it’s very difficult to get those counter-attacks.”

Valdez scored his second goal of the match in the 52nd minute from about 30 yards out, rocketing a shot that found the back of the net. Alan Berumen added a goal in the 44th minute and Oscar Vasquez scored the last of San Elizario’s goals in the 77th minute.

Decatur had a chance to avoid the shutout with 16:45 left but San Elizario’s keeper came up with the save. That was one of the few chances Decatur had on this day.

“They were such a good team moving the ball around, I guess we weren’t expecting it and weren’t ready for it,” said Decatur senior Sebastian Serrano. “They kept finding shots.
“I wish we could have gone further, but I’m proud of my team.”

Benjamin echoed Serrano’s thoughts and believes the future of Decatur soccer is bright.

“We had a great season,” Benjamin said. “I think there are some games that really demonstrate the future of Decatur. We’ve had some really good games this year that highlighted how well we could play. Overall, I think we’ve grown as a team. We have a relatively young team with a bunch of sophomores, so I’m very excited to see what they can do next year.”

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